Poland: Warsaw bans nationalist independence day march

Warsaw's mayor wants to avoid the racism that plagued last year's independence day celebrations in Poland's capital. But the nationalist government has other ideas.

UPDATE — BAN OVERTURNED: Poland court approves far-right 'independence march' in Warsaw

The mayor of Warsaw has banned nationalist demonstrators from marching during planned independence day celebrations on Sunday.

"This is not how the celebrations should look on the 100th anniversary of regaining our independence," Hanna Gronkiewicz-Waltz said on Wednesday. "Warsaw has suffered enough under aggressive nationalism."

Gronkiewicz-Waltz, a member of the center-right Civic Platform, said security concerns also informed her decision.

Disappointed nationalists

Polish nationalists and far-right organizers from the National Radical Camp (ONR) had expected between 100,000-250,000 participants for this year's "independence march."

Last year's event attracted some 60,000 participants, but demonstrators shouting racist insults and displaying anti-Muslim banners caused an international outcry.

Government defiant

Members of the far-right Law and Justice party (PiS) have vowed to organize another march led by President Andrzej Duda. PiS has been in office at the national level since 2015.

Sunday's festivities will mark Poland's 100th anniversary as an independent country. Its territory had been split between the German kingdom of Prussia, the Austro-Hungarian Empire and the Russian Empire prior to 1918.

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A plea for forgiveness

The communists used the student protests to purge 12,000 Poles of Jewish origin from Poland. On March 8, 2018. Duda made an emotional plea for forgiveness and placed flowers on at a memorial at the university.

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Under the cover of crisis

The March 1968 protests across Poland were quickly suppressed by the government of the People's Republic of Poland. The political crisis was used as an excuse by the communists to purge Jews from the government.

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Solidarity from the West

German Chancellor Willy Brandt's son Peter (second from right) marched in West Berlin in solidarity with Polish students who were demonstrating in Poland in 1968. The protests in Poland were ruthlessly suppressed by the communist government.

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Ground zero: Communist Party headquarters Warsaw

Students demonstrated in front of the Communist Party building in Warsaw in 1968. The Communist Party used the student protests to purge Jews from the party and from Poland. 12,000 Jews ultimately left Poland

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Fighting in the streets

Polish militia cracked down on the student protests. On March 18, 1968, student protests spread across Poland and the Communist Party ruthlessly suppressed the demonstrations.

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You say you want a revolution....

Intellectual centers and universities across Poland erupted in protest in 1968 when officials banned a play by Polish Romantic-era poet Adam Mickiewicz which was deemed to have an anti-Russian message.

amp/cmk (dpa, AP, AFP)

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